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Work Underway On HPU’s Newbury Family Welcome Center


Groundbreaking on Howard Payne’s Newbury Family Welcome Center took place on June 25, 2020 and, after a COVID-related delay, construction has recently started on the facility.

“We’re excited because this is the first new construction project we’ve had in over 20 years,” said Howard Payne University President Dr. Cory Hines, a 1997 HPU graduate. “We’re looking forward to beginning a new chapter in the history of our school with the construction of the Newbury Family Welcome Center. Mike Rodgers (Vice President for Finance and Administration) has worked hand in hand with Waldrop Construction as well as Quorum out of Fort Worth. They’ve designed about a 7,800 square foot facility that will have both a modern as well as a retro look. The exterior will be brick that’s a complement between Mims Auditorium and the Walker Memorial Library, as well as a lot of glass that provides for clean access on the way in.”

The original intent was for the construction of the facility to be further along at this point, but COVID-19 – like with most plans in the last year – played a significant role in the change.

“The plan this summer was to launch pretty quickly after groundbreaking,” Hines said. “But one of the things that was important to us was that we could have a product that was within the scope of our budget. With COVID-19 and some of the changes with respect to construction materials, we had to work with architects to redesign different components of the facility to get the product that we want within the budget that was approved. So we had to have some design modifications and scheduling changes with respect to the design because of the pandemic.”

Rodgers detailed the purpose of the Newbury Family Welcome Center.

“It will primarily be our admissions department and the idea is to give the university a front entrance where, when we have visitors to campus and especially potential students and their families, we wanted a place where they could come in and feel welcome and they could look out on the whole campus,” Rodgers said.

Hines added, “One of the great things about this building is we’re going to have a large commons space that will be used by our admissions team for prospective students when they come in, talking about the history of Howard Payne, the legacy of Howard Payne, and how we might help them shape their legacy here. And it will also provide us the opportunity to host some receptions, lecture series and different events on campus as well.”

The current timeline for the opening of the Newbury Family Welcome Center is a year from now.

“Hopefully February 2022 would be the best case scenario,” Hines said. “Waldrop’s reputation is very strong in our community so we have full confidence in their ability to deliver a facility that we’ll be proud of, that will be in budget, and on time.”

The facility is named for the family of Dr. Don Newbury, a 1961 graduate of HPU, president of the university from 1985 to 1997 and current chancellor.

The welcome center will be located at the intersection of Austin and Center Avenues on the historic former site of Old Main, the university’s original building, which was destroyed by fire in 1984.

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